This meant that Dulamanja had to find other means of survival with the 28 points he acquired in the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I could not sit for the university entrance examinations as I could not afford to pay for the examinationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fee,Ã¢â‚¬Â laments the 26-year-old who comes from Masalala Village, T/A Machinjiri in Blantyre.
The situation forced him to look for a job inorder to support his three siblings and his grandmother. But weeks turned into months, then years, with no hope for him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Because of the situation at home, I was forced to take anything that came my way. I was later picked by the parks department of the Blantyre City Council to help in tree planting,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Dulamanja, in a sad tone.
He could not hide his dissatisfaction with his current work, saying he still thinks he deserves better.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I still long for the moment when I will be able to go back to school so that I am well-equipped for the industry and earn a decent living for myself and relations,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says.
Many youths today find themselves in the shoes of Dulamanja because of the gaps within the current Malawi secondary school curriculum.
According to a 2009 World Bank study, incomes based on education level show that in secondary school, the average additional income was 92 percent and 155 percent for lower secondary school and upper secondary respectively, while for technical/vocational and tertiary education was 177 percent and 440 percent respectively.
As Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) observes, one of the reasons many school leavers find themselves in such situations today is the absence of industry supporting syllabus at secondary level to prepare them at an early stage.
Making a presentation on the relevance of the curriculum to the industry at the Malawi Institute of EducationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Curriculum Review presentation in Blantyre, MCCCIÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs public-private dialogue coordinator Grace Mloza Amri said deliberate policies to make secondary school graduates rich in skills may reduce the cost of industry specific on-the-job training.
Since the main goal of the curriculum review is to make it more relevant and responsive to the needs of the Malawian society, the Secondary School Curriculum Review should prepare pupils for the industrial sector.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The structure of the industry is such that we have more large and small firms with a missing middle. In such a case, the majority labour demands are on most specialised skills and average skills, and secondary school graduates with some relevant skills are quite important to the industry,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Amri.
She also observes that the type of equipment that students in secondary schools are exposed to is far below the standards of the industry, consequently, with no additional technical colleges to address the demand for such type of skills.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Recruitment of technicians who are exposed to sub-standard training is risky and costly as the industry needs to retrain them on the desired equipment and to acceptable standards,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
Amri also hinted out on the need for imparting artisan skills right at secondary schools so that students develop interest during their secondary school time, which would help bridge the missing middle that is experienced by the industrial sector.
To achieve the countryÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs development agenda through encouraging local and foreign investment in high value addition sectors, the country will need wide availability of skilled labour with specialisation in a wide area.
Just as the Minister of Education, Science and Technology George Chaponda observes, development of a comprehensive skills development policy will help clarify roles, improve coordination, strengthen regulation and facilitate monitoring and evaluation of progress in skills development.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“After graduating from secondary school, students will be able to use the skills learnt in class by establishing small-scale businesses which will help them to improve their lives, among other things, and they will be able to stand in this modern world where technology is changing every day,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Chaponda also noted that once the new curriculum is implemented, Malawi will have enough human resource and even export some, thereby contributing not only to the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s but the worldÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs development.
Perhaps if Dulamanja had been equipped with such skills in secondary school, he would have been telling a success story now. But now, there is hope for secondary students who may not have an opportunity to attend tertiary education.